CrossFit Preschool: 5 Things I’ve Learned From Working with 5-Year-Olds

By David Osorio, with Janelle Barth

In February of this year, we launched CrossFit Kids (6-8) and CrossFit Preschool (3-5) at CrossFit South Brooklyn (CFSBK). Though I had wanted to launch this program for a while, it took a backseat until our Front Desk manager Janelle—who has a lot of professional experience working with kids and is pursuing her masters in education—expressed interest in getting it started. I'd only dabbled in coaching kids during an internship after college and since I’m the youngest in my family, I didn’t have much experience working with these age groups. Even despite Janelle’s expertise, I was a little nervous—but up for the challenge and excited to expand my coaching horizons.

I’m not the only one who felt this way. At the CrossFit Kids seminar that Janelle and I took, we talked to a number of people with varying ranges of experience that all said they were nervous about running these classes. In today's article, I want to share a few things that we’ve learned since launching our CrossFit Preschool program (more on our CrossFit Kids later), in the interest of letting people know what to expect.

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How to Properly Spot the Bench Press at CrossFit Gyms

I recently visited an affiliate while traveling and the instruction on bench pressing itself was excellent, but there was no mention of how or when to spot. Everyone in the class seemed to be doing something completely different. Some were a mile away from their partner having conversations with other gym-goers, some were hovering over their partners basically tea-bagging them, and one girl was "spotting" her partner by standing next to her. Yes, like next to her—on the wrong side of the bar.

Bench pressing is the barbell lift most of the general population has been exposed to—and more often than not, exposed to incorrectly. When spotting, it's important to teach your members how to do it correctly so that no one is put at undue risk. Partial reps and sloppy set-up positions aside, the worst habits you might see in any given gym are a spotter who either is too handsy—assisting the entire movement and thus invalidating the lift—or a spotter who isn’t engaged and would only have front-row tickets to an accident were one to occur.

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How to Prevent CrossFit Injuries: A Guide for Coaches and Athletes 

This article was originally published on Breaking Muscle

If you’ve ever experienced an injury, you know it can be emotionally devastating. You think the world is ending and you feel claustrophobic in a body that no longer performs in a way you’ve come to expect. As a CrossFit coach, your own injuries (or imagining your way into what such an experience feels like) should cultivate a disposition of empathy for your athletes—which should also lead to taking your responsibility as a coach even more seriously. 

Injury is an unfortunate reality inherent in all rigorous physical activity and no gym will ever be injury-free. But there are injuries I would consider preventable or easily avoided if coaches and affiliates adhere to some basic principles.

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Why Your CrossFit Gym Needs a Front Desk

In the early days, CrossFit South Brooklyn’s “Front Desk” was a broken and badly worn desk I found in the Brooklyn Lyceum, the facility where I was renting space by the hour. On that desk, I kept a pencil pouch with a Post-It note on it that said, “Please leave $20 for class.” There was also a composition notebook where people logged their names as they came in. The pencil pouch was our honor-based payment system, and the notebook was my clumsy attempt at tracking CFSBK’s membership.

This arrangement was the extent of our “Front Desk” for several years until we transitioned over to a software system called Mind Body Online. Then we moved to Volusion, and finally found Zen Planner. Even with the software, and for years after we moved into our current location, our initial point of contact with our membership remained that same pencil pouch full of $20 bills, and our composition notebook upgraded to a three-ring binder.

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Elevating the Push-Up

Here is our second installment in our "Correcting Common Errors With the Push-Up" series! In this video, I discuss two easy ways to modify push-ups for someone who is on the verge or getting their strict push-ups but not quite there yet.

Elevated Push-Ups

If possible, use an adjustable rack so that the athlete can quantify their progress and adjust over time (lowering as they get stronger). Also, for new athletes, set them up at the bottom of the push-up with their sternum on the horizontal support so they can walk their feet out to the exact point they'll need to be at. Often people arbitrarily set up their feet on elevated push-ups and end up incorrectly aligned as they initiate their descent.

Banded Push-Ups 

Setting up a jump stretch band just below their anterior superior iliac spine (ASIS) allows them to scale how much force they need to produce in order to move through a full range-of-motion. This is also great for people who struggle with the bottom few inches—where more of their body weight is being shifted toward their arms—because as they descend, the band is stretching out, creating more tension and thus more support as they descend.

We'll be back soon with another ITA video!